WHAT IS BONE DENSITOMETRY?
Bone densitometry is a widely used technique for measuring bone mineral density and diagnosing osteoporosis. DEXA is a quick and painless procedure for measuring bone loss. Measurement of the spine and hips are most commonly done.
WHEN IS BONE DENSITOMETRY USED?
Bone densitometry is commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but also can be found in men. Osteoporosis is a gradual loss of calcium that causes bones to become thinner, more fragile, and more likely to break. Bone densitometry can assess your risk for developing fractures. If your bone density is low, your physician can work with you on developing a treatment plan to help prevent fractures. Bone densitometry can also track the effects of treatment for osteoporosis.
HOW DO I PREPARE?
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Try to avoid clothes that have zippers, belts, or buttons made of metal. Inform your physician if you have recently had a test that required you to drink barium or be injected with contrast material (such as a CT scan or nuclear medicine test); you may need to wait several days after these tests to have a bone density test. There are no restrictions on what you can eat before the exam.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING MY EXAM?
The exam will last approximately 15-30 minutes. Depending on what you wear to the exam, you may be asked to change into a gown. A current height and weight will be obtained, and you will lie on your back on a padded table. We will examine your spine and both hips. During the exam, your feet will be strapped to a brace that helps rotate the legs inward. Once you are in that position, a detector moves slowly over the area to be imaged. The amount of x-ray used is very small – equivalent to about 1/10 the dose received from a chest x-ray.
HOW DO I GET THE RESULTS OF MY EXAM?
After your exam is completed, the results are interpreted by a radiologist. A detailed report is sent to your ordering physician. When he/she receives the results, they will discuss them with you and develop a treatment plan if necessary.